Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2024

Monaco qualifying was most tense moment of entire season – Leclerc

Formula 1

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Charles Leclerc expects the Monaco Grand Prix to be “more relaxed” after yesterday’s high-stakes qualifying session.

The Ferrari driver claimed pole position for the third time in four races at his home track. Although he is yet to win in Monaco, he denies feeling any added pressure to deliver this time.

“I think the peak of the tension actually of the whole season, I would say, is in qualifying in Monaco,” he explained. “Then for the race, it’s not like you are more relaxed – but, well, actually you are more relaxed just because [in] the race, you’ve got to focus on the start, you’ve got to focus around the pit stop, because obviously the laps around the pit stop are extremely important.

“But the qualifying in Monaco is a big part of the job. It is true that in the past we didn’t have the success that we wanted, but I don’t want to think about that any more, and I’m pretty sure that it will be a good one this weekend.”

Leclerc said he felt a high burden of expectation to deliver pole position having been quickest in two of the practice sessions ahead of qualifying.

“When you have such a good FP2, FP3, and also FP1, you go into quali knowing that you’ve got everything to lose and if you don’t take pole position, then you look completely stupid.

“The pressure was still quite a lot on, but we managed to pull it off, which was really nice.”

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His preparation for qualifying was disrupted as Ferrari discovered a problem on his engine before qualifying began. “With the change of engine at the last minute, that wasn’t making me any more calm,” he said. “So it was a bit of a tense quali going into qualifying.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2024
Leclerc has been the driver to beat so far in Monaco
“Once you are in the car, actually, you feel so good,” he added. “Or at least I felt so good and everything goes away.

“It’s more the two hours in between FP3 to quali, that there you start to feel a little bit the tension, that you know that you need to prepare everything, that you need to anticipate track conditions, and all of this. But as soon as I put the helmet and then I’m in the car, I’m completely fine, and I really don’t feel anything anymore.”

Leclerc’s pole-winning lap was only a tenth of a second slower than the quickest ever lap of this configuration of the Monaco circuit. He said the car “felt better everywhere” as the session went on but staying on top of the changes in track conditions had been a challenge.

“What we struggled with the most coming to quali [is] the thing that is most difficult to actually counter, which normally we always try to anticipate in the new conditions,” he explained. “[The] one thing you cannot really anticipate is that you are going faster through a corner and that means with the bumps in Monaco, the wheel [is] lifting and the amount of time you pass in the air with the wheels not touching the ground is quite a bit more compared to FP3 because of the increased speed around the corners.

“That made it a lot more tricky to actually feel the balance and to just be on the limit and be consistent. So I was a little bit less consistent.

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“Then I started to be a bit more aggressive with the front wing to have a bit more load and help that, and that was a bit better.

“As I said, I think the best feeling of the weekend was FP2, FP3. However, in quali, it was still good, and it was still the best out of everybody, and I think we’ve got a great car but it was just a bit of a trickier session to put everything together, but I’m happy we did so for Q3.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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2 comments on “Monaco qualifying was most tense moment of entire season – Leclerc”

  1. God this is boring….. Cancel Monaco.

  2. Each year, qualifying laps on the Monaco track is one of the best season highs. That, let alone, is worth it to keeping Monaco on the calendar.

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